Assistant Professor of Law Ieshaah Murphy

Ieshaah Murphy is an Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense and Racial Justice Clinic. Under Professor Murphy’s leadership, the Clinic combats mass incarceration and racial injustice in the criminal legal system through direct representation, community engagement, and strategic action. Professor Murphy’s teaching and scholarly interests focus on criminal law and procedure, racial disparities in the criminal legal system, and indigent defense reform.

Prior to joining UDC Law, Professor Murphy practiced as a civil rights attorney and public defender. Most recently, Professor Murphy was a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, focusing on racial justice and criminal legal system transformation. Before the ACLU, Professor Murphy worked for over eight years as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she represented hundreds of indigent children and adults charged with serious offenses.

While at PDS, she supervised attorneys and co-founded the agency’s annual week-long defender training program for law students from historically excluded communities. Professor Murphy frequently trains lawyers and law students on various topics related to criminal defense and trial advocacy. She is teaching faculty for the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop and previously served as an adjunct professor at the American University Washington College of Law and the George Washington University Law School. Professor Murphy has also served as teaching faculty for the National Criminal Defense College (NCDC), the Deborah T. Creek Criminal Practice Institute (CPI), the Wisconsin State Public Defender Trial Skills Academy, and several other defender training programs.  

Professor Murphy is a founding member of the Black Public Defender Association (BPDA), where she develops and leads race equity trainings at defender offices around the country. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Professor Murphy earned her B.A. in Sociology, Phi Beta Kappa, from Spelman College, where she was a Gates Millennium Scholar, Dean’s Scholar, and valedictorian. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she won several awards for excellence in trial advocacy. Professor Murphy has a longstanding commitment to advocating for those impacted by the criminal legal system. While in law school, she defended indigent people accused of crimes as a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Institute, represented incarcerated people in prison disciplinary hearings as a member of the Prison Legal Assistance Project, and held summer clerkships at the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Bronx Defenders.  

Professor Murphy is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia